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Getting involved with Living Wage Week

Author : Phil Smith, LCC Support Services sales and marketing director

31 October 2016

There is no business that needs to look at its wages for the low paid more than the FM, cleaning and catering sectors.

If we want to retain the loyalty of the hard-working people we have invested in recruiting and training, it’s time to take a good long hard look at wage levels and their relevance to reality with the cost of living.

For example workers, with say 2 or 3 hours work each day in our major cities, will usually need to spend their first hour’s wages before tax on travel, which can leave as little as £10.00 in their pocket for an evening’s work.

We have surely moved on from the days of the Victorian workhouse and these levels of remuneration are unsustainable and a significant disincentive.

The FM sector is probably the UK’s largest employer and growing fast. Today it employs more than all the civil servants in the UK.

FM industries are judged on the service they provide which is ultimately delivered by the colleagues they employ. If individuals are happy and contented their performance is carried out to a high standard and with enthusiasm.

If employees come to work reluctantly - with a grudge about low levels of take home pay and the feeling that they are not appreciated, their work may suffer and be delivered to lower standards than we’d all be happy with - and who can blame them?

I have been an avid supporter of the Living Wage Foundation for over five years and represent LCC Support Services as a member of the Recognised Service Providers Leadership Team and over those years I have been proud to praise the many benefits for all that result from paying fair pay.

So, to make our colleagues feel wanted, respected and ultimately financially rewarded we need to show that we care about them and that they are important to our organisations, our clients and to the work that they produce for us all.

They deserve to be appreciated by being paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. I am not referring to a huge amount here (the change is often as little as 5-10%) but it is significant – in fact massive – when assessing the impact it can have on someone’s life.

It also secures loyalty, attendance, great performance and happy clients. Financial common sense as well.

Each year, The Living Wage Foundation announces the new recommended ‘living wage’ for the coming year, at the start of its Living Wage Week.

This is carefully scrutinised taking into consideration the cost of living year on year. In 2015 the hourly rate for the UK increased from £7.85 to £8.25 – 40p which surely any successful contractor or client can afford.

The Foundation’s rate for London where costs of housing are higher, rose from £9.15 - £9.40p. If you don’t think that these small increases make a difference you should see the reaction of some of the recipients when this was announced.

Get stuck in today
The campaign for a living wage has been operational for 15 years but since the Foundation was only formed five years ago, 2,700 employers have joined – which is fantastic and continues to rise – but only 73 service providers.

Membership of this worryingly small group includes facilities management companies, security, catering and predominantly contract cleaners of all sizes across the UK. These great organisations are doing their bit to drive in social sustainability and make a real difference to pay.

But there are literally thousands more outsource providers that could join and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg either.

A company with 50 employees will pay an annual fee of only £100 and, to dispel a popular concern, you don’t have to pay everyone a Living Wage…you just have to try to!

So if you’re not subscribed, not on-board or considering this, please ask yourselves why not?

To hold certification the organisation must guarantee adopting the recommended hourly rates for its directly employed colleagues.

In the case of teams and individuals working on client locations, the commitment is purely that you will talk to your client about the benefits of paying a Living Wage and that when you tender for new business you’ll offer a living wage proposal where possible.

That’s it. Simple really. If you join now you will be able to participate in Living Wage Week – 31st October to 5th November.

Across the UK there will be events for employees and companies to celebrate their involvement in the programme.

Some will be team building activities, social and ‘get to know you’ events. The Week provides opportunities for management and workforce to become involved together.

Highlight of the Week is the announcement of the new hourly rates for 2016-17 - which is always worth a celebration.

Win, win, win
Living Wage Week and the Foundation provides an ‘all win’ situation and here are my reasons:
• Clients have happy, loyal service teams who deliver better work with greater consistency
• Contractors have less recruitment and interviewing costs
• Contractors have less training costs
• Our colleagues get what they deserve and what they need for themselves and their families to live safely and healthily.

Cleaning today is a profession not just a job and employees are entitled to a fair wage.

Join today and get involved in Living Wage Week, call 020 7043 9882.

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